Constructing a New Nationalism from Below: The Dalit Movement, Politics and Transnational Networking
Degree Granting Department
Mark Amen, Ph.D.
James Cavendish, Ph.D.
Bernd Reiter, Ph.D.
India, globalization, social movements, Exclusion, Bahujan Samaj Party
This research examines one potential route for sub-national social movements to alter preexisting contemporary nationalisms- the transnational social movement network. When social movements "go global" they move beyond the nation where they are typically excluded from the national project and instead, become members of an alternative and inclusive transnational project. What social movements do at this level is not under examination here, but rather how they go about returning to their respective nations and challenging the hegemonic national project. Does the transnational site impact the success of sub-national social movements? Is a movement more likely to achieve its goals and experience inclusion into the national identity due to transnational networking? One key assumption of this research is that on a global and national level there exist projects which seek to include some citizens or groups while excluding others. These divisions are paralleled to racial divides according to Anthony Marx (1998).
The Dalit movement in India serves as an exploratory case study due to its sub-national roots and transnational mobilization, and the racialized and exclusionary practices of the caste structure. Dalits, previously known as "Untouchables," are relegated to the lowest position below the caste hierarchy where they witness discrimination primarily through violence and a lack of access to resources. The movement has gone global, but then returned to India where it seeks to hold states accountable. It has also sought inclusion through political means, forming its own political party-the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)-in 1984.
This research traces the global route of one Dalit movement organization, the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), but then tests the success of Dalit inclusion by examining one internal indicator-the electoral results of the Bahujan Samaj Party. The electoral results where taken from a pre-global (1995-1999) and a post-global (2002-2009) period. Findings demonstrate that over time the BSP has significantly increased its participation in elections and slightly increased its success-rate at achieving elected positions. While the Dalit movement continues to experience some degree of success at both the national and state levels, they have not yet been fully integrated into India's national project.
Scholar Commons Citation
Daily, Lisa A., "Constructing a New Nationalism from Below: The Dalit Movement, Politics and Transnational Networking" (2009). USF Tampa Graduate Theses and Dissertations.